The Schools Group was founded by Valerie Wiley, who was a mental health consultant for the Chicago Board of Education for seven years. In this capacity, she worked with a variety of students in Chicago public high schools, providing clinical counseling services. This experience convinced her of two things: there is a large unmet need for this type of support for students, and these services belong in the schools where students can and will access them.
In 2007, she formed a partnership with the New Center, a training and psychotherapy practice in Chicago, to test the feasibility of using graduate students to deliver services to students in Chicago-area public, private, and parochial schools at low or no cost to the schools. During this time, she placed and supervised six graduate students in three elementary and three high schools. This pilot program was a success. In fact, school personnel often expressed relief at having clinically trained counselors available in the school building, and the graduate students felt that the placements offered them excellent clinical experience in fulfillment of their practicum requirements.
In 2009, she established The Schools Group as a not-for-profit organization to be able to provide clinical counseling services to public schools at no cost to the schools.